Minnesota needs to pass its own reproductive freedom law | Opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court has 20 abortion-related cases before it. Getty Images.

As chief medical officer for our regional Planned Parenthood organization, my team is doing everything we can to make sure reproductive and sexual health care are available to anyone who needs it during this global pandemic. The high-quality, expert care we provide is a partnership with our patients, and this partnership necessitates that each patient has the freedom to make health care decisions that are best for them and their family. While our country has been struggling to stay safe during the past year of the pandemic, the threat to our health care freedom and the right to safe, legal abortion has been growing.  

That’s why providers across the state are supporting the Protect Reproductive Options Act, legislation that would enshrine reproductive rights in state law, a crucial backstop if Roe v. Wade is overturned or weakened in the future. The bill says that every Minnesotan has the right to decide if they want to use contraception, become a parent or get a vasectomy. This includes the right to safe, legal abortion.  

Why do we need this legislation now? While our country is starting to recover from some of the Trump Administration’s harmful policies, we must also face a difficult truth: His legacy includes a real and ongoing threat to the basic human right to control our bodies and our health. Trump appointed more than 200 judges to lifetime positions, including three on the U.S. Supreme Court. With its new conservative majority, the Court has nearly 20 abortion-related cases before them, any of which could seriously undermine reproductive rights. This threat from the Court is real, so we must do all we can to protect our rights in Minnesota.  

This bill also protects the rights of patients and doctors to make health care decisions based on science, not politics and misinformation.  Year after year, we see legislative leaders in Minnesota introduce bans on abortion before most people even know that they are pregnant. These are accompanied by medical disinformation from politicians who oppose reproductive rights. When lawmakers deliberately perpetuate myths about health care — whether it be about reproductive health, vaccines, or COVID 19 — it underscores yet again why it is best to leave medical decisions to trained experts, not politicians.  

Inflammatory lies about abortion only stigmatize people who may be facing complex and potentially heart wrenching decisions, like whether to continue a pregnancy with severe fetal anomalies or a pregnancy that would risk a person’s ability to have children in the future.  

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is deeply personal, and these nuanced health care decisions must be left to the trusted relationship between patients and their providers. This trust is sacred and absolutely crucial to uphold in the care I provide to patients. I want every person who comes in our health center to be able to look me in the eye and know that I am giving them the best possible medical assessment and a full, honest overview of their health care options. I want them to trust my knowledge and experience as a doctor, and to trust that they can come to me in the future when they need care.  

Each patient has a unique situation, circumstances and future outside of our health center walls. I sit with my patients not as a judge or jury, but as their doctor. Their health and wellbeing are my priority. And it is my job and my oath to care for them and uphold their autonomy. We must do all we can to protect Minnesotans’ right to make health care decisions that are best for them, and that’s why we need our legislators and leaders to support the Protect Reproductive Options Act in Minnesota.